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55th Annual Rattlesnake Roundup Slithers into Sweetwater

The 55th Annual Rattlesnake Roundup has slithered into Sweetwater and sunk its fangs into town.
The 55th Annual Rattlesnake Roundup has slithered into Sweetwater and sunk its fangs into the town.

"It's overwhelming, I can't believe it, how many people, how many crowds," said James Smith, who owns a taxidermy company out of Paris, Texas.

By Friday, there were already 1,300 pounds of rattlesnake that had come in already. Organizers say the largest amount they have had after a roundup weekend is close to 18,000 pounds.

Thousands of people, from as far away as Canada, Israel and China, have made their way into Sweetwater to take in the sights.

Besides the main attraction -- the snakes, of course -- there are carnival rides and food trucks on the grounds outside and booths lining the inside of the coliseum, including Smith's taxidermy shop.

"We go to like eight shows and this one is the biggest of them all," he explained.

For many people, the unique event is about seeing or trying something completely new.

"I don't want them, but I wanted to come see them, and it's definitely something different to do," said Jean Tacquard, who traveled up from Galveston for the weekend. "We saw alligators recently, and I wanted to see some snakes!"

And for some, like Michael, maybe just trying it -- once again.

"I'm a true-blue hillbilly," he laughed.

Last year, he taste tested the barbequed rattlesnake -- this year, he's back for it deep-fried.

So what'd he think?

"Well, it's not very filling as far as meat is concerned, but it's tasty. Don't expect it to be like chicken, but it's good as long as they season it right," he said.

The Rattlesnake Roundup continues throughout the weekend. Gates open 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
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